Archive for the ‘New Developments’ Category

How will plunging oil prices affect the Canadian housing market?

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

House prices are expected to increase just “moderately” across Canada this year, led by above average gains in the Greater Toronto area but saddled by uncertainty in the West thanks to slumping oil prices.

House prices gains are likely to slow this year, but still average about 2.9 per cent across Canada, says realtor Royal LePage in its annual house price survey and market forecast released Wednesday.

That would bring the average price of a resale home to $419,318, up from $407,500 in 2014.

The national realtor has now revised its regional forecasts, however, as oil prices continue their slide.

Toronto is expected to lead the pack when it comes to price increases this year, with the realtor saying the average home price in Canada’s largest city is forecast to rise by 4.5 per cent, although that would be well behind last year’s pace.

It anticipates that the shift of economic activity from West to East, combined with the strengthening U.S. economy, could help drive even more demand for housing in the GTA.

That would bring the average resale price of condos and houses combined across the GTA to $592,000 — up from $566,500 in 2014 and $524,089 in 2013.

“We would have taken a more bearish approach to Toronto and the Ontario market had it not been for the sharp change in Canada’s economic conditions,” said Phil Soper in an interview, the president and chief executive of Royal LePage.

Vancouver is expected to see the second-biggest average jump in prices, up 2.8 per cent, followed by a 2.4 per cent gain in Calgary, among several of the major centres surveyed across the country.

“I do believe there are winners and losers, in the short term, both economically and in the housing markets. And one of the places (slumping oil prices) are playing out positively right now is in Central Canada.”

The fallout from oil also makes it less likely that interest rates will rise, as had been expected, sometime this year, noted Soper.

Calgary’s expected 2.4 per cent rise this year is less than half what had been anticipated before oil began its slide. That would still bring the average house price to $472,000 this year.

Calgary had been among the “hot three” Canadian housing markets in 2014 (Toronto and Vancouver were the other two), with detached bungalows up 9.1 per in the fourth quarter of 2014, year over year. Average two-storey homes saw prices jump 8.5 per cent in the fourth quarter. Even condos saw price growth of 9.1 per cent during the quarter, says Royal LePage.

Vancouver’s likely 2.8 per cent gain keeps it firmly in top spot as the most expensive real estate market in the country, according to the national real estate company’s projections for nine major Canadian markets.

That would bring the average Vancouver home price to $835,000, which includes everything from condos to multi-million dollar single family homes.

Edmonton is expected to see gains of 2.5 per cent, followed by Ottawa at 1.8 per cent. House prices are anticipated to largely flatline in Halifax, Montreal and Winnipeg, but decrease by 1.3 per cent in Regina.

Source: Susan Pigg, Toronto Star

It’s a seller’s market in Greater Vancouver for the first time in 3 years

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

A gauge closely monitored by the real estate sector, called the sales-to-active-listings ratio, reached 20.4 per cent last month – the first time since June, 2011 that Greater Vancouver’s housing market has crossed into seller’s territory.

The industry deems it a balanced market when the ratio ranges from 15 per cent to 20 per cent. It is considered a buyer’s market below 15 per cent and a seller’s market above 20 per cent.

The number of properties changing hands is edging up while active listings are slipping, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said Tuesday.

Residential housing sales rose to 3,286 in May, up 14 per cent from 2,882 resale properties that sold a year earlier. Despite the rebound, the latest monthly sales still lagged the 10-year average of 3,514 for May. There were a total of 16,072 active listings last month, down 6.7 per cent from May, 2013.

Some housing watchers have said Ottawa’s shutdown of the federal immigrant investor program in February might erode sales volume, especially for high-end properties. But so far, the impact has been muted, said Shaadi Faris, vice-president at Vancouver-based Intergulf Development Group.

“The perception about people who have no connection to B.C. arriving to flood the market with investment properties is overblown,” he said in an interview. “The immigrant investor program being removed didn’t have as large a ripple as some might have thought.”

Greater Vancouver’s average price for single-family detached homes sold last month was $1,218,772, up 4.2 per cent from a year earlier.

Mr. Faris said that as prices for detached houses continue their march upward, prospective first-time buyers are increasingly looking for townhouses and condos in the suburbs.

Intergulf oversees the Grand Central condo project in Coquitlam, where the developer completed the first high-rise in 2009 and the second in 2012. A third tower, the highest at 37 storeys, is set for completion later this year.

“Three or four years ago, there were a lot of new projects that came on. There was an oversupply in Coquitlam, and it took time to get through that inventory,” Mr. Faris said.

Coquitlam condo prices have dipped 4.1 per cent since May, 2011, but have risen 3 per cent in the past year. The Evergreen SkyTrain line, scheduled to open in the summer of 2016, will have a stop near the Coquitlam Centre shopping mall. “Evergreen isn’t pie in the sky any more,” Mr. Faris said.

Combined index prices, which strip out the most expensive resale properties on the Multiple Listing Service, climbed 4.3 per cent year-over-year to $624,000 last month for Greater Vancouver’s detached homes, condos and townhouses. The index price for detached homes in May was $966,500, up 5.4 per cent over the past 12 months. The townhouse index price gained 3.1 per cent to $469,100, while the condo index price rose 3.2 per cent to $377,500.

Ray Harris, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, said statistics on existing homes sold show that demand is strong. The region’s housing market is the most active it has been since the spring of 2011, he said.

For detached properties, three neighbourhoods made the million-dollar club in May’s home price index: Vancouver’s West Side saw its price index increase 7.8 per cent over the past year to $2,229,800, West Vancouver’s gained 8.1 per cent to $2,009,200 while Burnaby South’s advanced 4.7 per cent to $1,007,400.

In the Fraser Valley, total residential, commercial and retail sales last month climbed to 1,633, up 18.4 per cent from May, 2013. Last month’s index price for detached homes in Fraser Valley, which includes the sprawling suburb of Surrey, rose 3.1 per cent to $566,400.

Source: Brent Jang, The Globe and Mail

What costs are associated with buying a home?

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

Unlike a lot of first-time home buyers, in 2009 Jesse MacNevin decided to go for a house that was less than the amount he was approved for.

“I started doing the numbers and talked to a few real estate agents,” he says. “Then I went to my credit union for a pre-approval. I realized then that I needed to focus more on what I could actually afford versus how much they would give me.”

While he was given the green light to aim for a $350,000 home, he settled on a condo for just under $260,000 instead. “I didn’t want home ownership at the expense of everything else. I remember looking at my budget at the time and thinking the last thing I wanted was not to be able to travel. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it was cheaper and fulfilled all my needs. In hindsight, it was a good move.”

MacNevin says having a good real estate agent and lawyer helped him determine what he could really afford, where there might be potential problems and the ins and outs of closing the deal. A mortgage broker was also important when it came to the signing process and making sure there was flexibility in his mortgage terms.

Not everyone entering the home buying market is so diligent.

When doing the mortgage math, it’s not enough to plug some numbers into an online estimator, says David Stafford, managing director, real estate secured lending, for Scotiabank in Toronto. “This is probably the largest single financial transaction that most people do in their lives, and it can get very complicated. Online estimators typically won’t give you the full picture.”

He says buyers need to look beyond the actual purchase price and factor in a percentage (typically 1.5 per cent of the purchase price) for closing expenses from the outset. “Land transfer taxes, legal fees, title insurance and other things are all part of the math.” They also need to consider ongoing expenses that will be over and above monthly mortgage payments, such as utilities, property taxes, insurance, maintenance and condo fees.

Sometimes there are additional surprises that come into play in the initial stages of home ownership, such as reimbursement fees if the former owner has prepaid their property taxes and moving costs, says Toronto-based Richard Desrocher, a general legal practitioner and former real estate broker.

The immediate financial aspects are only part of the process, which is why a home inspection is a good idea, he says. “You won’t know what’s going on behind the walls and on the roof. It’s pretty scary after you close a deal to have to deal with drain problems.”

There are also ways people can reduce their costs if they talk to the right people, Desrocher says. “A lot don’t realize that many financial institutions are willing to negotiate down from their published rates. A mortgage broker is much better informed about where the best deals are and can shop the market for you.”

Source: Denise Deveau, Postmedia News

Canadian property prices rise by 10.1%

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Property prices in Canada increased by 10.1% compared with a year earlier, taking the national average price for homes sold in February to $406,372, according to the latest figures from the Canadian Real Estate Association.

CREA says that the size of year on year average price gains continues to reflect the decline in sales activity in February of last year among some of Canada’s most active and expensive markets, which dropped the national average at that time. This phenomenon was particularly clear this month, with Greater Vancouver having posted the biggest year on year increase in activity by a large margin.

The MLS Home Price Index, regarded as providing a better gauge of price trends because it is not affected by changes in the mix of sales activity the way that average price is, rose 5.05% on a year on year basis in February, up from a 4.83% gain in January. Year on year price growth picked up among all property types tracked by the index.

Price increases were led by two storey single family homes with growth of 5.84% and one storey single family homes at 5.4%. This was closely followed by price increases for town house and terraced units up 4.05% and apartment units up 3.74%.

The biggest gains were recorded in Calgary where prices jumped 9.1% and Greater Toronto with growth of 7.28%. Greater Vancouver’s recorded a fourth consecutive year on year increase of 3.17% while prices in Victoria remained lower than year ago levels, down 1.01%, the smallest in more than three years.

Sales were largely unchanged with an increase of just 0.3% compared to January but the slight rise follows five straight monthly declines and means that transactions are 9.3% below the peak reached in August 2013.

The number of local housing markets where February sales were up ran roughly even with the number of markets where sales declined, with little change in activity among most of Canada’s large urban markets.

‘Sales in February rebounded in some of the smaller local markets where activity was impacted by harsh winter weather in January. The strength of sales activity during the crucial spring market period will be influenced by the availability of listings, which varies considerably from market to market,’ said CREA president Laura Leyser.

Sales activity this spring will be supported by the recent decline in the benchmark five year conventional mortgage rate, according to Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist.

‘That’s because buyers needing mortgage default insurance who opt for a term of less than five years must qualify for mortgage financing based on that rate, and not a discounted rate that their lender may be offering. The support will be of particular importance in some of Canada’s larger urban markets where home prices are higher than those in smaller markets,’ he added.

The number of newly listed homes was also little changed in February, having edged up 0.6% on a month on month basis. As with sales activity, there was a roughly even split between the number of local markets where new listings were up from the previous month and those where they were down.

The number of new listings nationally would have declined had it not been for a 7.8% increase in Greater Toronto, where new listings in January had dropped to the lowest level in more than three years. The rise in new listings in Greater Toronto was offset by monthly declines in new listings in Greater Vancouver and Edmonton.

With sales and new listings having both edged slightly higher in February, the national sales to new listings ratio was 52.1%, virtually unchanged from 52.3% in January. Since early 2010, the ratio has remained firmly entrenched within the range from 40 to 60% that marks balanced territory. Just under two thirds of all local markets posted a sales to new listings ratio in this range in February.

The number of months of inventory is another important measure of balance between housing supply and demand. It represents the number of months it would take to completely liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

There were 6.4 months of inventory at the national level at the end of February 2014, down slightly from 6.5 months at the end of January. As with the sales to new listings ratio, the months of inventory measure continues to point to a well balanced housing market at the national level.

Source: Property Wire

Some tactics to make first-time home buying easier

Friday, February 28th, 2014

The average cost of a Canadian home hit a record high of $388,553 in January. This price is 9.5 per cent higher than last year. The average cost of a home in cities such as Toronto and Vancouver rose to $526,528 and $606,800. Over the last ten years Canadian real estate prices have soared 84 per cent. With prices sky-high in some cities, the following tactics could help make buying your first home just a little bit easer.

Get a mortgage pre-approval before you start house hunting.

Before you start visiting open houses or checking out properties with a real estate agent, it’s important to visit your bank to see which houses you can afford. This ensures you’re shopping within the correct price range. Many people will need to take out a mortgage to buy property, but the amount you are eligible for is based on multiple factors including credit rating, household income and monthly expenses. Before you begin property hunting, visit a financial institution. This way you’re able to hold a competitive rate for between 30 to 120 days.

Buy a home with your parents or a buddy.

Young adults are increasingly relying on help from family members to buy a home. About 27 per cent now expect it. In a hot housing market, real estate agents have seen ‘gift letters,’ which detail the money a family member will contribute to assist them with mortgage approval, or simply thousands of dollars in hard cash. If a family member decides to loan the money rather than give it as a gift, parents should establish payment requirements in a legal document to ensure that everyone is satisfied.

Buy a home in a more affordable city.

House prices in Vancouver and Toronto are climbing to unaffordable levels for many people, but this doesn’t mean you have to live in these cities. Near Toronto, the housing markets in Ajax, Brampton, Milton and Mississauga are heating up. These are popular placees to buy a bigger lot, but potential homebuyers need to account for other costs (like gas and car insurance), as well as commuting times should their work remain in Toronto.

Buy a home that you can use as an income property.

You could buy a property you can live in but also split into a rental unit. The best outcome is if your renter’s payment covers your mortgage costs, but there are some important points to consider. First, you need to determine how comfortable you are living in close proximity with your tenants. For example, are you comfortable having a boarder live down the hall, or would you prefer to live on separate floors and use different entrances? Many people would prefer a semi-detached home with a separate entrance, bathroom and kitchen. If these don’t figure in the property you’re eyeing, you’ll need to budget for renovation costs.

Negotiate your house price and insurance.

Some people don’t feel comfortable negotiating, but it can save you a lot of money. First, the more information the better. Research the value of other houses. Chances are an identical house has been sold in the neighbourhood and you should check that property’s value against the one you’re considering. Understand why the seller is selling and shape your bid towards his or her plans. Also, understand that while the size of your bid is important, it isn’t always the deciding factor because some homeowners care how the new owner will treat the property.

When you purchase insurance, there are three types to consider: basic, standard and comprehensive. An independent broker can help you get the best rate and if you bundle your auto and home insurance with the same company you could receive up to a 15 per cent discount.

Tap into your RRSP for first-time home buyers.

First-time homebuyers can withdraw $25,000 from their RRSP as a part of the federal government’s homebuyers plan. If you’re buying a home with a partner, you can both take out $25,000 from your individual plans. If this equals a 20 per cent down payment, you can avoid mortgage default insurance, which tacks on several more thousands of dollars to your mortgage. If you do tap your RRSP, there is a tax loophole that lets you receive up to $20,000 in tax refunds. But one drawback with using your RRSP is that you must repay the amount you withdraw within 15 years or you will face a penalty based on your personal income tax rate.

Buy a smaller space.

One in eight households lives in a condominium. With the gap between the price of a house and a condo hitting record highs in Toronto, more families are becoming condo dwellers. The average size of a home in Canada was 2,300 square feet during the mid-2000’s. But that number has now dropped to 1,900 square feet and will probably keep shrinking. The size of your family will determine the size of your home. While you may have grown up in a single detached home with a backyard, in housing markets such as Vancouver and Toronto it’s important to manage your expectations.

Budget for your closing costs.

Tapping into a mortgage offers homeowners leeway in paying off their property, but along with your down payment there are other upfront closing costs you need to budget for. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation suggests that you set aside an additional 1.5 to 4 per cent of your property’s purchase price to account for closing costs. Closing costs include a land survey that ranges from $1,000 to $2,000, an independent home inspection costing from $350 to $600, legal fees for a title search and paperwork that run to about $1,000, and a land transfer tax that varies based on your city and GST/HST.

Source: Josephine Lim, MSN Money

What to look for when buying a condo

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Condo shopping can be overwhelming – a pre-shopping checklist can help limit your stress and visits to show homes.

To create such a list, start by visiting presentation centres and model units in person. Although the Internet is a great place to do some basic research, you will learn much more by assessing the quality of materials and construction in person. This will also give you a chance to ask your questions and evaluate the quality of the responses you get. Be consistent with the questions you ask in the showrooms so you can make accurate comparisons.

When visiting, try to speak with the show home’s specialist who assists buyers with their design choices, as they are often present. Take advantage of their expertise regarding upgrades and options. This will be helpful even if you eventually settle on another development.

Before visiting, make a list of those amenities that are important to you and that you are likely to use. Remember, the cost of amenities is embedded in the condo price and the cost of maintaining them in the condo fees.

Some questions to be answered:

• Who is buying units in the condo — singles, couples, students, young families, retirees? This will determine the condo’s culture. Be careful if the units are being sold to investors as rental units; tenants as a group may be less invested in keeping the property up and more frequent turnover will subject the common areas to wear and tear.

• Consider “curb appeal.” Is impressing your visitors with a beautiful facade, entry foyer and other common areas important to you? Not every condo owner cares about the width of the corridors or the decor in the elevators, but many do.

• Is there adequate and convenient visitor parking? A good way to deter friends from coming by is making parking difficult.

• Are the elevators fast and adequate for the size of the building? This is particularly important if you want to be on a higher floor.

• Parking is key. Consider ease of access, adequate space for your car and ease of egress into traffic. Fighting your way into rush-hour street traffic can get old quickly; on the other hand, you may be on a schedule that lets you avoid rush hours.

• It may be wise to purchase a parking space or two even if you don’t have cars — they can become more valuable over time and can always be sold. Parking spaces can be significant inducements when reselling.

• Check out the storage lockers for size, location and internal organization. You don’t want to have to unpack the whole locker just to get at your suitcases in the back.

• Location, location, location. As for all real estate, condo location is paramount. However, there are many factors that determine the value of a given location to a given purchaser. Convenience generally plays a significant role and convenience is a very personal thing. Some of the following points will help clarify this.

• When examining floor plans and fact sheets, make sure you understand the positives and negatives of the layout. If you have trouble visualizing this, educate yourself by quizzing the people representing the various developments about their layouts. You will soon be doing this automatically when you see a floor plan.

Flow is very important, especially if you are used to bigger spaces. Make sure the room sizes meet your requirements. This should include the kitchen, which needs to be more comprehensive if you plan to cook or entertain. Of course, some facilities have beautiful entertaining spaces and catering services. You might prefer this format.

• If cooking is a priority, find out which appliances are included and check them out. If they don’t measure up you may need to upgrade.

• Is a balcony important and will you actually use it? If you plan to garden, make sure you know the rules governing your balcony use. If you have no interest in balcony living, smaller is better than larger as it will save you money and upkeep.

• Are your critical amenities readily accessible? Of course, accessibility will depend on your level of mobility — committed walker, cyclist or driver. Some may require facilities within their condo complex.

• Make sure you know how bright your condo will be and determine how important this is to you. Orientation of principal rooms and window height are the two biggest factors.

• Does the level of security offered meet your expectations? This applies to building access, garage surveillance, and elevator and corridor security.

• Concierge service is both a security and a convenience factor. What will the concierge do for you and during what hours? If you travel a lot, this becomes more important — who accepts the deliveries and brings in the mail?

• What are the rules about pets, both yours and neighbours? How long does it take to get Fido to the grass and what do you do in winter? Or perhaps you don’t want to interact with pets on a regular basis.

• Is the condo on a flight path or adjacent to high tension transmission lines? This may not be important to you personally but may become an important issue on resale.

• Are there lighted recreational facilities nearby that may generate noise in the evening?

• Are there local events such as exhibitions or sports events that may overwhelm traffic circulation intermittently?

Source: Marilyn Wilson, Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties Inc., Ottawa

What sells condos? Apparently grocery stores

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Across Vancouver, mixed-use development – especially ones with specialty food markets or full-service grocery stores on the ground level – are popping up like mushrooms after a spring rain.

Condo purchasers want a new kind of lifestyle – one of convenience. As living space shifts downtown, municipalities are shedding old zoning models in which homes were placed in one spot, retail in another, industry in yet another, and everyone drove from one to the other. In Toronto, the movement is ramping up. In Vancouver, where space is at a premium, it’s rampant.

Yaletown was a decaying industrial area before Vancouver designated it as a mixed-use residential-commercial hub and made it a priority for redevelopment in the late 1990s. First, a highrise condo went up, then Choices Markets Ltd. won the lease to provide groceries in a structure adjacent to the residential building.

“The original developer approached us for tenancy as both a means of providing service to the neighbourhood and adding a selling feature for their condo development,” says Tyler Romano, director of marketing for Choices, a retailer known for natural and organic foods.

The developer approached national chains, but at the time they did not have a format for a grocery store with a smaller footprint. Choices won them over with plans to stock the shelves in only 11,500 square feet, a 10th of the size of a suburban big-box grocery store.

Over the past 13 years, as at least 15 condo towers were added, the area has morphed into a vibrant, upscale oasis, “a perfect fit for our brand of socially conscious, community-minded green retailing,” Mr. Romano says. “This works perfectly for the car-less urban dweller who adheres to the two-bags, six-blocks shopping pattern.”

The grocer has adapted its offerings for the clientele – many of them younger single people and busy professionals who want to pick up dinner right where they live – with grab-and-go items from the salad bar and deli making up a high proportion of sales.

“It’s unbelievably convenient when it’s nine o’clock at night and all you have to do is go straight down the stairs and walk into a store and grab products,” Mr. Romano adds.

In Toronto, grocery was always part of the plan of the massive Concord CityPlace development which, when complete, will be home to 20,000 people. Tucked in a downtown corner off Spadina Avenue, a vibrant 20,000-square-foot Sobeys grocery store offers benches outside for patrons to take the sun, with a flower shop up front.

“It’s quite quickly becoming the heart and soul of CityPlace,” says Gabriel Leung, director of development for Concord Adex. “Financially, if we could have landed a retailer sooner, we could have leveraged on that and included it in our marketing materials. People always appreciate these kind of things in an urban centre.”

Concord Park Place, the developer’s second Toronto highrise neighbourhood at Sheppard and Leslie streets in Toronto’s North York area that will boast 10,000 units when complete in 2018, does not yet have a grocer. “We’ve been talking to a few other mainstream operators,” Mr. Leung says, adding that it takes a long time to negotiate with national chains.

Originally, though, the grocery store was not part of the plan. Home Depot Inc., which had wanted to get closer to the downtown condo market, had signed a lease agreement with developer RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust, but when the economy in the United States sharply contracted in 2008, the hardware giant was forced to lay off employees and close stores. It broke its lease with RioCan. Almost immediately grocery stores lined up to fill the vacancy.

David Speigel, vice-president of operations at Tribute Communities, which partnered with RioCan to work on the residential portion of the project, recalls welcoming the switch to a grocery store. Tribute wasn’t keen to have residents live on top of a hardware store.

Mr. Speigel thinks residential can co-exist right next to retail – although mixed-use planning is more complex and there are few developers with the expertise to construct both. “It becomes very complicated because you have floors that are servicing both retail and residential.”

A small development, epecially, makes more sense financially when combined with retail stores beneath, Mr. Speigel said. “It’s less important when you have a 40-storey building; the retail at the bottom of it becomes less significant.”

He maintains downtown condo buyers are happy to live above the grocery store. He even knows of one, happy to wander down to the store to grab his dinner in his “boxers and flip flops” on a cold winter day.

Source: Beverley Smith, The Globe and Mail

What happened to BC home prices and sales in January?

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Both sales and prices of homes in B.C. were up in January when compared to December.

However, they were down compared to January 2012, the British Columbia Real Estate Association reported Monday.

The number of sales was up 1.8 per cent in January, but down 13.6 per cent from last year at this time.

The average composite price was $514,134, up 3.2 per cent from December, but down 2.7 per cent from a year ago, BCREA said.

“Despite a modest uptick in consumer demand last month, home sales have remained relatively stable at a noticeably lower level since last August,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA chief economist.

The volatility in average prices that was caused by the 2011 surge and subsequent 2012 pullback in luxury home sales appears to have moderated, Muir said.

The year-over-year drop in average price of 2.7 per cent more closely reflects the price of a typical home, he added.

Source: Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun

The number of new condo developments being built is increasing

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

The pace of housing starts picked up August, boosted by big multiple-unit projects in Toronto, even as the Canadian real estate market showed signs of cooling.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Tuesday there were 19,860 actual housing units started in August to set a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 224,900 units for the month, up from 208,000 in July.

The consensus estimate by economists had been for a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 201,000.

“This increase is primarily a reflection of the high level of pre-sales in some of these large multi-unit projects in late 2010 and early 2011, which is in line with job gains at that time,” said Mathieu Laberge, deputy chief economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre.

“The higher level of starts recorded in Atlantic Canada and British Columbia in August reflect low levels of activity in July rather than an increasing trend that was registered in August. Overall, moderation in housing starts activity is still expected for the remainder of 2012 and 2013.”

TD senior economist Jacques Marcil said the data shows Canadian housing construction remains in high gear and suggested the pace won’t continue.

“The rest of the economy is growing much slower and as a consequence is not likely to be able to support this level of housing supply for much longer,” Marcil warned.

“While recent changes to mortgage insurance rules will likely limit the growth in demand for new homes, low interest rates remain an incentive for buyers to borrow and keep the housing market overvalued.”

Last week, Toronto Real Estate Board reported that sales of existing homes in the Toronto fell 12.5 per cent from last year, although the average price of $479,095 was 6.5 per cent higher.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver board said sales dropped 30.7 per cent in August, while the average price was only 0.5 per cent lower at $609,500.

The drop in sales followed a move by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to reduce the amortization rate on new government insured mortgages to 25 years from 30.

It was the fourth time in as many years the minister has tightened mortgage rules.

CMHC said Tuesday that the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased by 10.2 per cent to 205,900 units in August.

Urban single starts remained relatively unchanged in August at 64,300 units, while multiple urban starts increased by 15.5 per cent to 141,600 units.

August’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased by 47.5 per cent in Atlantic Canada, by 20.4 per cent in Ontario, by 18.2 per cent in British Columbia and by 1.3 per cent in the Prairies, while they dropped by 9.8 per cent in Quebec.

New secondary vacation or recreational homes in BC qualify for rebate

Monday, May 28th, 2012

My real estate column in the Vancouver Sun featured property sales in Kelowna, and Sun Peaks.

Vancouver Sun May 26th, 2012

15-5040 Valley Drive, Sun Peaks

Type: Four-bedroom, four-bathroom half duplex
Size: 2,515 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment, 2012: $618,000
Listed for: $649,000
Sold for: $635,000
Sold on: March 31
Days on market: 295
Listing agent: Liz Forster at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada
Buyer’s agent: Jill Cavanagh at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada

The big sell: At the same time the B.C. government increased the new housing rebate threshold to $850,000, it introduced the same limit for purchasers of new secondary vacation or recreational homes outside the Greater Vancouver and Capital Regional districts. This means buyers of new homes priced up to $850,000 will be eligible to claim a provincial grant of up to $42,500. This has injected new-found enthusiasm into B.C.’s new recreational properties in areas such as Sun Peaks. This newly built ski in/ski out half duplex comes fully furnished and features a bright open living area with rock-faced fireplace, hardwood floors, granite countertops and stainless-steel Viking appliances. There is a family room, a master suite with walk-in closet and a spa-like ensuite with soaker tub, rain shower and double sinks. There is a large double garage and three private patios. The home can also be rented out on a nightly basis.


2525 Selkirk Drive, Kelowna

Type: Four-bedroom, three-bathroom detached
Size: 3,190 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment, 2012: $594,000
Listed for: $619,900
Sold for: $612,500
Sold on: April 18
Days on market: 27
Listing agent: Krista Suchar at Macdonald Realty Kelowna
Buyer’s agent: Tim Stanfield at RE/MAX Kelowna

The big sell: This home was built in 2007 in Kelowna’s Dilworth Mountain neighbourhood. Among its selling features: the unobstructed dramatic views of the Glenmore Valley below. The custom-designed rancher sits on almost a quarter-acre property and has detailed finishings throughout that include granite countertops, hardwood and slate floors, recessed and pendant lighting, stainless-steel appliances and vaulted ceilings. The open-concept floor plan has two bedrooms on the main floor — including the master with full ensuite bathroom — alongside the living room and kitchen. The basement has two further bedrooms, a spacious family room, a den area and an additional bathroom. There is an extensive bank of floor-to-ceiling windows and a large balcony to maximize the panoramic vistas. The landscaped garden contains an underground sprinkler system and a covered patio area that provides shade.

For the full story, please click on Real estate sales in Sun Peaks and Kelowna.

Compiled by Nicola Way of BestHomesBC.com and AssignmentsCanada.ca.

Realtors – send your recent sales to nicola@besthomesbc.com
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